Resveratrol, a naturally occurring polyphenol, shows pleiotropic health beneficial effects, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, cardioprotective and neuroprotective activities. Due to the several protective effects and since this compound is widely distributed in the plant kingdom, resveratrol can be envisaged as a chemopreventive/ curative agent introduced almost daily with the diet. Currently, a number of preclinical findings suggest resveratrol as a promising natures weapon for cancer prevention and treatment. A remarkable progress in elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying anti-cancer properties of resveratrol has been achieved in the last years. Concerning the resveratrol mechanism of action as a protective (vs. normal cells and tissues) and toxic (vs. cancer cells) compound, many studies focus on its antioxidant capacity as well as on its ability to trigger and favor the apoptotic cascade in malignant cells. However, a generalized mechanism of action able to explain this dual effect of resveratrol has not yet been clearly established. In addition to these important functions, resveratrol is reported to exhibit several other biological/biochemical protective effects on heart, circulation, brain and age-related diseases which are summarized in this Review.
Keywords: Resveratrol, polyphenols, chemoprevention, anti-cancer, apoptosis, cardioprotection, neuroprotection